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My Turn

ATI, Where's My All In Wonder?

- 2002.10.02

My Turn is Low End Mac's column for reader-submitted articles. It's your turn to share your thoughts on all things Mac (or iPhone, iPod, etc.) and write for the Mac web. Email your submission to Dan Knight .

Okay, I admit it, I am a PC user who has fallen in love with Macintosh computers thanks to OS X. My PC, running Windows 98, has always been a fast and stable machine. It works, but OS X works better. I already have an iBook, and my next computer will be a Power Mac dual G4.

Over the course of several years, I have custom sculpted my PC into a very nice multimedia and content creation machine. When someone asks me what's the most important, best, or most useful piece of equipment in my PC, without hesitation I answer: "My ATI All In Wonder video card. It does everything."

Like all ATI video cards, my three year old AIW offers superior DVD playback.

Some friends of mine spent close to $400 to buy a TiVo. I spent about $120 on my All In Wonder (AIW). I can do everything they can do, and the setup is a snap.

I used to have the TV in my office turned on to CNN so I could listen to the news as I surfed the Web or did other tasks on my computer. No more. I use the cable TV jack and have CNN running in the background (as my screen saver no less - wicked keen!) while I work.

Using the capture feature, I've screen captured pictures from several of my favorite TV shows, and not only have I used them to help "convert" friends to watching these shows, I've also dropped them into Photoshop and had fun teaching myself some photo manipulation techniques.

The built in FireWire on Macs is a fantastic thing, but in my house, the camcorder is not digital. Because of the breakout box that comes with my AIW, I can easily import analog home videos for editing and later burning to video CDs. I can also export my final movies to video tape for those members of my family who do not have computers.

About two years ago, Maximum PC magazine designed and built a PC designed to replace all the equipment in a typical living room entertainment center. The AIW made that machine possible by replacing the VCR, DVD, TiVo, and the game console.

But when I use a Mac, I lose all of that. I will have to buy different (non-ATI) products to get the same functionality my AIW gives my PC. I think there's a USB widget that will let me turn a Power Mac into a TiVo, but I just don't trust USB to have the bandwidth for good video capture. My other options are capturing on my PC and networking it to the Mac, or a blood curdlingly expensive Matrox professional video capture card. Grrr.

The Macintosh has traditionally been a powerhouse multimedia and content creation machine. The best "prosumer" content creation machine and the ultimate consumer multimedia and content creation card belong together. It's a match made in heaven - and could put millions of dollars in ATI's pocket.

If nothing else, get a move on it before the folks at Nvidia wake up and realize that with one product they could kick ATI out of the Mac market forever.

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